It's a comment that's taking Britain by storm. And now, even Prime Minister David Cameron is being dragged into it.
While appearing on the British show "The One Show" on Wednesday, BBC TV host Jeremy Clarkson made some strong comments about striking public sector workers. Mainly, they should be shot and executed -- in front of family.
The London Telegraph has the quote:
During his interview, Clarkson was asked what he would do with strikers, he replied: "I would have them all shot".
He continued: "I would take them outside and execute them in front of their families.
"I mean how dare they go on strike when they have these gilt-edged pensions that are going to be guaranteed, while the rest of us have to work for a living."
Here's what viewers saw:
But Clarkson wasn't done there. He also complained about his train having to stop when people commit suicide by throwing themselves in front of it:
Later he added: "'I do sometimes use the train to come to London but it always stops in Reading. It's always because somebody has jumped in front of it and somebody has burst.
"You just think, why have we stopped because we've hit somebody? What's the point of stopping? It won't make them better."
The comments prompted the show to issue an on-air apology at the end: "Although we enjoy Jeremy's views, which he sometimes exaggerates for comical effect, we are seriously sorry if his comments about deaths on the railways has upset anyone."
It's sparked outrage across the UK.
"No one wants these strikes but most of today's strikers are mums, not militants," said Jon Trickett, Labour's shadow minister for the Cabinet Office. "Clarkson should apologise. And [his friend] the Prime Minister should make clear he disassociates himself from the distasteful remarks uttered by one of his friends."
Even CNN host Piers Morgan commented via Twitter:
But Telegraph columnist James Delingpole was quick to come to Clarkson's defense, noting that the comment was clearly a joke:
This is silly. It should be patently obvious to anyone who is familiar with his style or has seen one of his programmes – ie: everyone in the world – that Clarkson didn't mean it. [...]
Oh, plus, he was employing it as a figure of speech. I know this won't mean much to half the morons who complained to the BBC yesterday, but the English language is an extraordinarily rich and nuanced thing. Sometimes, when the speaker says that someone should be shot, he really does mean it: if, say, it's an officer giving orders to a firing squad about to shoot a deserter or a looter in 1915. More often, though, he doesn't. For at least the last fifty years "they should be taken out and shot," has been a socially acceptable, perfectly unexceptionable way of expressing colourfully and vehemently one's distaste towards a particular category of unpleasantness, be it striking Unison workers, revolting students, poorly performing members of your football team or the Lib Dem members of Cameron's cabinet. Context is all.
What do you think?